I’ve had a brilliant break over Christmas (and I really hope you did too). I’d say it took me the best part of the first week to calm down and manage to switch off from work after some pretty pressurised stuff happening immediately before the holidays, as well as everything else that happened in 2020. I then had had a blissful week where I felt brilliant! No stress, no strain, no anxiousness. But on Saturday (2nd January) it all started creeping back. I woke with a start just after 6am with those old bolts of anxiousness shooting through me again as the thoughts of work began to sneak into my head again. Nooooooo!
I’ve quickly learned that it’s so easy to feel like you’re “over it” when you’re having a good spell. I could truly believe I was totally fine and could quickly forget what it’s like to be anxious. But then… bang… and the anxiety is back (you’re meant to say this like Barry and his Cillit Bang). Anxiety, apparently, is like childbirth. I had wiped out the pain/struggle of the first time round from my head head but as soon as I had the first contraction during my second labour… oh yeah! I remembered EXACTLY what its like! And I was not amused that I had to go through that shit again. The good thing here is that I was actually surprised and delighted at how quickly and how much better I felt just for having some time away from work.
Something I do every day, but have been doing more of, and more mindfully, over the Christmas break is walking. It literally feels like I’m walking away from all my problems for the time I’m out there. The best one so far was a stunning cliff walk from Yesnaby to The Bay of Skaill. We left the dogs at home because dogs and cliffs are not my favourite combination of things (boak!). We’d taken a flask of coffee and some home bakes (don’t get carried away, they were from an honesty box). When we reached a cairn at the highest point on the walk, we stopped, I sat down and just took in the view with my hot cuppa (which didn’t taste great but you can’t have it all). The sea was calm but the waves were still rolling in. We could see Hoy, The Old Man of Hoy (a sea stack which stands just out from Hoy in the Pentland Firth, you can just see him in the photo below) and in the distance the mountains of mainland Scotland were visible. The light was golden and the shadows were long. It was peaceful and perfect. I can’t describe to you how magical it was to get out in that, to connect with nature and my surroundings. I felt like a new person when I came home despite feeling REALLY anxious that morning. I think the walking calmed down the physical response I get. As I mentioned in THIS blog, I’m not going to think my way out of this. I have to work on my body and it’s reaction to anxiety first. Walking has proved to be excellent at calming me down especially when the walk is somewhere new and gives me lots of things to think about and take in.
So I can add mindful walks in new places to my tool kit of things to use when I’m not feeling so great. A brilliant excuse to get out and see more of these amazing islands when I can. And I’m definitely adding ‘more time off’ to my list of non negotiables for 2021 too.